Monday, July 20, 2015

Polishing Mom’s ’51 Merc

In the fall of ‘64, Bill helped Mom get a new used car; a ’51 Merc. At least it was new to us. We called it the tank because of its oblong shape and size.
Every time we got a new used car, we’d follow the same ritual. First, we’d wash the outside and vacuum the cloth bench seats and carpet. After the car was clean, Mom would move it to a shady area under a tree. Then, the real work began. Rich would take the lid off a can of Turtle Wax Simonize. Rich would put wax on a sponge and apply it to the fender using a circular motion. He’d stop each time after putting on a patch the size of a large pizza.
“We gotta wait a few minutes. Go get an ole tee shirt, Danny,” he said. I ran into our room and opened our underwear draw. Then, I remembered I had a sweatshirt with an elbow ripped out.
     “How about this?”
     “Grab an arm,” Rich said as we tore it apart. After the wax turned white, he wiped it off with an outside section of sweatshirt. “Now, let me have a piece so I can buff it,” he said. I handed him a torn segment of soft inside cloth and watched as he rubbed the streaks of wax into a brilliant shine.
I continued to smear wax on the sponge and ripped an old tee shirt and towel into pieces so Rich could finish the job. He showed me how to apply wax to the chrome and bumpers. Then, buff it. By late afternoon, we were done.  
     “Wow! The car looks brand new,” I said.
     “Not quite,” said Rich, standing beside me with his arm on my shoulder. 
Even though the ’51 Merc was clean and polished, it was still thirteen years old. Long ago they stopped making cars with windshields made out of two panes of glass.
Whenever we drove through town, I’d slump down in the backseat hoping that someone I knew wouldn’t recognize me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Rich and Dan's Antics from the Summer of 1956 in Teaneck, New Jersey

The Ringer Washing Machine

Smiling, I shook my head and gazed at Rich. He was looking back at me.  His smirk reminded me of the time he and I stood beside an old ringer washing machine. Someone from a neighborhood apartment abandoned it in our gravel backyard. It was in no-man’s-land, behind the string of stores and apartments and the shopping center parking lot. That relic sat there with weeds all around it——like a tombstone in a neglected graveyard. We examined it closely, twisting and turning the agitator back and forth.
“It moves,” Rich said. “Get inside, Danny. I’ll push you.”

To read more of this segment, visit my website where an excerpt is posted from "Brother, Brother" by Dan Duffy

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Memory of Atlantic City ...

Atlantic City, New Jersey-August 28, 1957, Dad, Rich, Sue, Me, and Ray  

"I smelled briny salt air and from that day forward referred to it simply as fresh air. But, another thought came to mind as I inhaled deeply. I recalled a family outing to the beach in Atlantic City, several summers before. I was splashing in the waves with Rich and Sue. I remembered the feel of Dad’s strong arms as he scooped them under my armpits, lifting me over wave after wave as they marched to shore. “One more time?,” I asked once again, looking up at my Dad’s smiling face."

Chasing Shadows by Dan Duffy 

January 2015

These past four years have been pivotal for me—directed on the future—marrying Helene, moving from New Jersey to Rockport, Massachusetts and beginning life anew as Innkeepers at the Beech Tree Bed and Breakfast.

It’s also been a time of personal reflection focused on my past—exploring memories of growing up as the middle-child in a family of five kids with my mother becoming the head of the household in 1959.

I’ve given much thought to the forces that shaped my life, influencing me to become the man I am today. And, I’ve been putting pencil-to-paper then fingers-to-keyboard to transform these memories into a memoir.

I’ll be using this blog to chronicle key points in my life and in writing my book, Chasing Shadows.

One of the most difficult things I ever did was to clean out my mother’s home after she died in June of 2012. I traveled to the Jersey Shore for two days of non-stop work—looking through all of her belongings and making split second decisions about what I was going to save, give to charity or throw out.

The most important mementos I saved were photographs—black and white and color images of family milestones and events. My first blog photo is one that triggered a memory—a day trip to the Jersey Shore. My mother took the photo and wrote on the back, Atlantic City-August 28, 1957. We’re standing on the boardwalk with the beach, ocean and Steel Pier in the background. Dad is standing behind us. Ray was three, I was six, Sue was nine and Rich was ten. Within a year Eileen would be born. We look happy, squinting into the late summer sunlight with Dad’s arms around us.

We didn’t realize at the time that this would be the first (and last) family vacation that we’d ever experience with him.